Sir Roger Deakins and James Ellis Deakins Jury Statement - MIRAGE Cinematography Award
It's a joy to be here, but it is not a joy to choose ‘best cinematography' between four films that are so diverse, all so beautifully rendered and each, in its own way, must have been such a huge challenge to create. The stories, situations and circumstances of each film, as well as the mental relationship to the their subjects are all so very very different. Each film also brings up a question about what is truth and what is fiction, what is real and what is imagined. There are many parameters to consider before making a decision as to which cinematography is “best”. And what does best mean? For us it can only be very personal. It is what affects us and emotionally connects us to something, what moves us, what inspires us and what challenges us. Great photography, in my world, engages the audience as a whole throughout a film in which nothing stands out, creating a world that we can be immersed in. And of paramount importance, I always feel, whether in drama or documentary, is the human face. Our choice for cinematography has helped reveal something about humanity that I don't think I have seen before. In my world, the feature world, it is important to create a space for an actor. Likewise in a documentary, and I did work in documentaries for many years, the relationship of the camera to a subject is similar to that with an actor in a fiction film. You have to create space for a person to reveal something essential of themselves and for a truth to come out. The simplicity of a face talking directly to camera may seem obvious but, in this case and in contrast to the fire that is remorseless consuming a healing world, it can also be devastating.
So, our choice is Nicolas Canniccioni and Arshia Shakiba of Rojek.
Heikki Kossi Statement for - MIRAGE Sound Design Award
As we all know, collaborating with story and images is always such a great and inspiring challenge. Storytelling by sound using production sound, voiceover, ambiences, sound fx, foley and maybe even music gives so much directions to go. What is the right one? Ears and heart will give the answer, I think.
After all the decision was pretty easy. This film includes organic soundscape concentrating on story and textures of the image. SOUND DESIGN follows the told stories and characters of the film making same time audience move to same atmosphere and feel subjective. This film is also good example how strong storytelling element sound can be. Not technical but so creative, so sonic.
The prize goes to Inner Lines and Pierre-Yves Vandeweerd, Julia Lusinian, Jean-Luc Fichefet, Alain Cabaux
Anne Fabini Statement for - MIRAGE Editing Award
First of all, I want to thank the Mirage festival team for this selection of inspiring, boundary-pushing films. The nominees for this year’s Editing Award invited me on four most wonderful journeys.
One journey took me to the outskirts of Brazil’s capital to meet a gang of strong, beautiful women. Rooted in a dire, dystopian reality, the film DRY GROUNDBURNING becomes an epic poem about resilience and hope. I will never forget the shot of one woman’s face. She’s at a religious service, all around her people are singing but she’s not. The viewer is free to observe, read and project his/ her own thoughts and feelings. And after a very long while, as a person and a toddler pass between the camera and the protagonist, the woman’s face bursts into a smile and she eventually joins in the chorus. And then the rhythm of the worship picks up, more people sing and pray, it’s almost tumultuous when editor Cristina Amaral surprisingly cuts to an exterior shot revealing that the street turned into a brownish river as if a verse from the bible had suddenly become reality.
Another journey took me to a place where I could never have gone if documentary cinema didn’t exist. Today the area where A House Made of Splinters takes place is ravaged by a cruel war and yet – thanks to the art of cinema – we are allowed into the life of a group of orphaned or neglected kids at a Ukrainian shelter. Quite early in the film, after the first tears are shed (and shared) soap bubbles float in the air. It’s one at first, then another one lands in the open hands of the girl that cried earlier. For a few minutes editors Michael Aaglund and Marion Tuor create a ballet of soap bubbles and together with the young protagonists, the audience enters a metaphorical room where sorrows don’t feel so terribly heavy but light and short-lived like soap bubbles.
The third journey was the most extensive: across the Pacific Ocean, from the bottom of the sea to the stars above, from the eons when our planet came into being to the present moment. All of Our Heartbeats Are Connected Through Exploding Stars invites the audience to meditate about the world and mankind’s past, present and future. But you cannot do so without understanding that mankind really is you and me and our loved ones whether they are with us or gone. While one characters says: “a photo is a memory that exists in physical form” we see a group of women carefully restoring photos that were damaged in the 2011 tsunami. The film’s editors Camille Corte and Amalie Westerlin Tjellesen connect little vignettes and personal moments into a vivid tapestry of visual poetry.
The fourth and last of these journeys took me to a very dark place in modern India, to a story of love, oppression, political dissent and resistance. A Night of Knowing Nothing starts with heartbreak told in unsent and unanswered letters from a young female protagonist who left them behind at her old film school. All through the story lingers a nightmarish choice between forgetting your past - and with it everything that makes you into who you are - or death.Towards the end of the film her last note reads: “Everything will be remembered“.
Is this film a call to document everything we live through? Not only to document, but to process it all? It is for sure a film that relies on and expertly uses the transformative power of editing. The materials used not only bear witness of events, they also wear the marks of intense processing: little doodles that seem scratched into the physical filmstrip, handwritten lines, title cards, CCTV footage, dances and dreams, still compositions, shaky videos from mobile phones, 16mm archive, super 8mm found footage all unified into high contrast black and white that looks like a cinematographic message from the early days of cinema. This message is told with the urgency and emotion of a young wounded heart. The personal is political. Tenderness and violence, a dry flower and police batons are not that far apart. When the students from the Film and Television Institute of India go on strike they chant: “Eisenstein, Pudovkin. We will fight, we will win.”Payal Kapadia and Ranabir Das documented and processed this.
The Mirage 2022 Award for Editing goes to Ranabir Das for A Night of Knowing Nothing.
Eskil Vogt Jury Statment - MIRAGE Directing Award
First I’d like to thanks to the Mirage festival for the opportunity to see these amazing nominated films. Watching them the question of documentary or fiction became unimportant to me. They are simply films - and for me that’s the highest praise: films worthy of the big screen. The festival has tasked me with choosing one of these four very different and prize worthy films and give out the prize for best directing. So I had to ask myself: what is directing? And I found it surprisingly different to define. Is it just the look or style of a film? That feels too superficial. Is it the whole artistic concept and execution of a film? But then we might as well call it "best film". This reminded me for some reason of an Iraqi filmmaker I met in Sundance several years ago. He had seen a film I had made and was talking very passionately about it when he said something I have thought about a lot: he said he loved Scandinavian films since «we didn’t have any important stories to tell, so we had to be so inventive with film form». I was a tiny bit insulted, «as if I don’t have anything important to tell?!», but of course he was right: When your house is burning it is a natural instinct to step back as a filmmaker and let the subject matter speak. To avoid letting the form intrude on the content. This might be very efficient journalism or activism, but it doesn’t always make for very good films. Not to say making films is more important than activism, most likely not, and it seems in very bad taste to critique the framing of a someone filming his or her house going up in flames. (Even if you would have loved them to move the camera back so you could see the flames on the roof rising towards the dark sky.)
Luckily, all the four nominated films rise above this dichotomy of form and content. Proving that important, even urgent, subject matter does not exclude ambitious film making. But the question remains: what is directing, and what is good directing? I am tempted to fall back on that supreme court justice in the US who, when asked to define pornography, said the famous quote: I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it. All this to say that my choice of winner is probably guided as much by personal taste as anything else and another one person jury would probably choose another winner.
But before I name the winner I’d like to mention Matteo Tortone and his film Mother Lode.
If you ask someone to picture a director it is the director on set that will first spring to mind: Working with actors or non-actors. Setting up shots. Holding the film in his or her head. Having a vision - even before shooting - of how the shots should fit together. Mother Lode is exceptional in that regard, with its jaw dropping and intelligent visual sequences achieved under what must have been the most arduous of conditions on what I imagine is a limited documentary budget. I can only congratulate. Watching it I can sense directing muscles flexing in the best possible way.
But the direction of a film, the vision, can sometimes come after the shooting has stopped. We often forget how much directing is done in the editing room and the sound editing. And this leads me to my choice of Payal Kapadia and her film A Night of Knowing Nothing.
I was deeply impressed by how Kapadia weaves radically different kinds of material into a poetic, fluid and hard-hitting whole. Kapadia reports on an urgent contemporary story, but seamlessly blends dreams and intimate fiction into her narrative, and isn’t even afraid to constantly remind us that we are watching a film. Her film is in dialogue with film history, silent movies, the French new wave, especially Chris Marker; but at the same time she is showing documentary mages that are radically modern - like the streams of images we share on social media in an attempt to wake people up: Look at this! Be upset! This is happening now. A Night of Knowing Nothing is a story about love and freedom. And I feel Kapadia’s unique voice and freedom as a filmmaker is a perfect expression of these themes. As the film teaches us, freedom shouldn’t be taken for granted, we have to fight for our right to say what we want and to love who we want. Kapadia and her fellow filmmakers show us the way, both by what they are telling us and how they choose to tell it. And maybe that is a possible definition of great directing: that you can’t really separate the content from the style, the how you tell and what you tell become inseparable.